Sometimes it seems as if the world is at its craziest now. What is different, however, about its current craziness from the all the craziness of the past? What is different from the Mongolian hordes led by Genghis Khan, from the madness of the Crusaders, from the intolerant brutality of the Spanish Inquisition, from the cold-blooded insanity of the Holocaust? People died, were tortured, starved, brutalized…all in the name of arrogance and power. Just as today. Its just that today, we all know about it instantly and graphically. We make the conscious choice to a) ignore it; b) spin it so that the victim is at fault; or c) acknowledge it.
Ignoring it means we can go about your day-to-day life without any guilt.
Spinning it so the victim is at fault enables us to be on what we dearly hope and pray is the right side of history. To acknowledge the simple facts of oppression would mean the immorality of it all must be starkly confronted. And we are perhaps not strong enough to cop to this.
And to acknowledge the amoral brutality means we have to do something. Protests do nothing. Blowing buildings up, and harming and killing other human beings, merely perpetuates the very thing we purport to hate. So what do we do?
Look around us. The oppression that is going on abroad on a grand and graphic scale is happening in our tiny little microcosm. Within our own families. Inside our own communities. It starts with us. Challenging and changing one tiny little injustice at a time does make a difference…eventually. Do we not say, in Islam, that: Allah changes the condition of a people when they change themselves? What does that mean?
To me, it means the following: Respect the rights of your parents and children. Confront the gossip-mongers who spread malice in your community. Do not stand for the petty wrongs that are done to you by your family and so-called friends. Be aware of when the rights of others in your own sphere of influence are being trampled upon. Perform your duties to Allah in the form of prayer, fasting, charity. Do random acts of kindness: Let people in when they need to change lanes on the freeway; Give the homeless guy a buck; Smile at someone you will never see again. (Even under my veil, people can tell when I am smiling at them…so what’s your excuse not to?)
If nothing else, it will alleviate this terrible sense of helplessness. And always maintain your dignity. When you look at those under oppression, and you witness their dignity, it’s a true marvel to behold. Inshallah, may the day never come when we are tested to see how much dignity under pressure we truly have.